As someone with ADD raising a child with ADHD, I know the importance of routines. I know how “easy” they can make life, and how much we crave the order. That being said, I fear this summer has gone to hell in a handbasket. I can’t remember what routine actually IS, much less stick to it!
BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? It’s been a great summer anyway. It has been a difficult summer, an emotional summer, and an exhausting summer in a lot of ways, but it has been a good one nonetheless.
I started out with big ideas of all the things A and I would do. Day trips on Sundays, game nights, and just relaxing. Nowhere to go and nothing to do. It was going to be awesome. Sometimes life laughs when we make those kinds of plans (or don’t make plans, whichever the case may be.)
First A asked if she could cut down her counseling appointments for the summer. She was able to stay home all summer for the first time, and wanted to just enjoy a “normal” summer vacation. Since there was no threatening reason why she shouldn’t be allowed to do this, I was happy to oblige. She told her doctor she didn’t want a vacation from medication this summer, but then she decided if she were home and had nothing to worry about, she would rather have a break. So we did.
The first week of summer started with a blast. We went on a roadtrip with my mother. We had a really good time, but both of us were also faced with the idea that my mother’s health was not what it once was. We both came to realize the trip was about my mother letting go, and visiting a place she loved one last time. It was a bittersweet trip, but full of wonderful memories that A and I will carry for a very long time. Just when we got home and got all settled into summer, A became ill. Bronchitis. Poor kid is still coughing four weeks later. Before she was well, I got sick too. Then I wasted a week with a bout of Vertigo. Add to the mix that the trip we made with my mom early in the summer seemed to sap every ounce of energy she had. With back and knee problems anyway, she came home and just wasn’t herself. She was speaking cryptically of how she wanted us to handle her affairs when something happened to her. She gave into the pain and never left her chair. She went from someone who had always taken care of herself no matter what, to someone who has needed care. And dementia has set in hard and fast. Where we used to think, hmmmm, I think Mom is getting a little forgetful, now it is obvious in glaring ways. In the last three or four weeks it has steadily declined. She can keep up with a conversation and know exactly what you (or she) is talking about. Until that conversation is over. Then she forgets. I have watched her go from someone who never needed help and never asked for any, to someone who doesn’t trust herself to make decisions. She had stopped eating. The last four weeks have been a whirlwind of trying to find something she would eat, checking on her every day, doing housework for her, and finally taking her to doctor leading to physical therapy appointments and an epidural. Lately I’m not sure if I’m coming or going. I have siblings that are as confused and as ragged as I am. But between us, we make sure she has what she needs, (or thinks she needs), and is as comfortable as we can help her be.
I told A the other day that this wasn’t exactly how I’d envisioned her first summer of freedom. She knows that life throws curve balls. She insists it is still hands down the absolute best summer she has ever had. I’m so grateful for this kid and how unselfish she is. She could spend time pouting about us not doing some of things I told her we would, but she understands that some things are more important. (and I would have no idea how to handle a selfish, pouty child – I mean more pouty than is normal for a 13 yo)
So we have lived this summer in absolute chaos. All my grand ideas for summer routine have been for naught. We’ve been winging it and it has definitely had its ups and downs. I can see the lack of structure taking its toll on us in some ways, and I have been aching to get back to some semblance of normal. It will all work out, though. In some ways I think this summer has been good for A because of the lack of structure and the lack of focus. She has been able to relax and not worry about some things. Yes, there is a huge mess in her room. But the rest of the house isn’t exactly spotless at this point. We have had many late night heart to heart talks. We’ve talked about her self esteem, her anxiety, her fears, her wanting to change, to embrace being happy but she doesn’t know how, we’ve talked about school, her friends, her feeling like she didn’t fit in, down to her realizing that despite the group of girls that turn their noses up at her, there are people who embrace her for her quirks and her “weirdness”, that she has, in fact, found her tribe – the people that understand her and realize how amazing she is. I’ve watched her embrace her creative spirit, turn deeply to art and music, and be better for it.
Maybe this summer has been one big growing pain, for both A and myself. Maybe we had to learn to meet ourselves where we are, and accept ourselves for who we are. I just wish it didn’t seem like it has flown by. School starts middle of August and while I will be sad to see summer end, and I will probably still wish we had done more, or had more time to relax, I will also be grateful for the routine that the school year provides. It will give us a chance to begin again with a fresh slate. A place to start.
The last week of this month we will unplug. It’s good for the soul. After that we will have two weeks left to shop for school supplies, uniforms, and say goodbye to summer.
I am a lucky woman – but I admit I do need to sit down and form a new routine.